Publications

2020
Fiscal Strategies to Help Cities Recover—And Prosper
Goldsmith, Stephen, and Charles “Skip” Stitt. 2020. “Fiscal Strategies to Help Cities Recover—And Prosper.” Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. Read the full report Abstract

Stephen Goldsmith and Charles "Skip" Stitt, May 2020 

Despite robust economies, many local officials entered 2020 already worried about budget balances that looked fragile in the short term and problematic in the long term due to enormous pension and health-care issues. Today, in the wake of COVID-19, clearly federal support is necessary, but it is also apparent that it cannot alleviate all the pressures on communities as responsibilities related to the pandemic skyrocket while revenues plummet.

While many public managers will rightly deploy a host of tactical cost-cutting measures, the most creative among them will explore deeper and more strategic changes, such as those presented herein, which will help address the current crisis while preparing their cities for the future. This paper suggests a transition to a culture deeply focused on data, incentives for city workers to produce internal reforms, public-private partnerships that monetize operational excellence, and rapid adoption of both new technologies and good ideas borrowed from other jurisdictions. These more deliberate and strategic approaches may be harder to implement but those offered here need not harm incumbent public employees nor negatively impact cities’ efforts to ensure access and equity. Rather, the strategies we outline should strengthen the efficiency and mandates of existing government offices while helping make cities more resilient and better prepared for tomorrow’s challenges.

Union Impact on Voter Participation—And How to Expand It

Tova Wang, May 2020

Some politicians have enacted measures in recent years to make voting harder and to reduce participation among certain groups. Others have sought to counteract that voter suppression by implementing laws to make voting easier, such as same-day or automatic registration. There is another antidote to the effort to reduce participation: lifting up worker organizations. This is especially important to understand given the ways in which powerful individuals and groups have sought to weaken unions because of their political strength representing American workers.

In this report, the author first explains efforts to weaken unions and the voice of working people; then what the decline of unions and union membership has meant for participation; next, Wang looks at the data showing the positive effects unions have on voter participation; and finally, she suggests how going forward we can reform the laws and how labor is structured such that it not only continues to facilitate voter participation, but even enhances it.

2019 State of Digital Transformation
Eaves, David, and Georges Clement. 2020. “2019 State of Digital Transformation”. Read the full report Abstract

David Eaves, Georges Clement; May, 2020

In June of 2019, the Harvard Kennedy School hosted digital service teams from around the world for our annual State of Digital Transformation convening. Over two days, practitioners and academics shared stories of success, discussed challenges, and debated strategy around the opportunities and risks digital technologies present to governments.

Teams that joined us for the summit used different approaches and methodologies in vastly different contexts. Some governments—such as those of Estonia and Bangladesh—were building on decade or more of experience refining already-advanced practices; others—such as the state of Colorado’s—were still getting ready to formally launch. Some had deep connections across their entire executive branch; others were tightly focused within a single agency.

Despite these differences, many key themes emerged throughout the convening. This paper contains reflections from the Summit. 

Randall K.Q. Akee, Eric C. Henson, Miriam R. Jorgensen, and Joseph P. Kalt; May 2020 

This study dissects the US Department of the Treasury’s formula for distributing first-round CARES Act funds to Indian Country. The Department has indicated that its formula is intended to allocate relief funds based on tribes’ populations, but the research team behind this report finds that Treasury has employed a population data series that produces arbitrary and capricious “over-” and “under-representations” of tribes’ enrolled citizens.

de Jong, Jorrit, Carlos Paiva, Carin-Isabel Knoop, and Rawi Abdelal. 2020. “Driving Change in São Paulo”. Read full case study Abstract

Jorrit de Jong, Carlos Paiva, Carin-Isabel Knoop, and Rawi Abdelal; May 2020 

In 2016, after many months of negotiation, the City of São Paulo approved a new ordinance regulating Transportation Network Companies (TNC). The new regulation allowed citizens to take advantage of innovative services and it enabled city leaders to manage the fleet with significant savings as well as unprecedented transparency and data. São Paulo, the first Brazilian city to adopt this model, faced internal responses ranging from vehement opposition to overwhelming support.

The case chronicles the road to implementation, including lessons learned from the TNC ordinance process and the previous pilots. It examines the efforts of key players—including Administration Secretary Paulo Spencer Uebel—to fulfill Mayor João Doria’s public commitment to fix the transportation model, consider public opinion, and minimize disruption during Doria’s first year in office. The case also explores strategies for implementing innovative practices in government as well as dealing with resistance to change in organizations, especially in the public sector.

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Lisa Cox and Jorrit de Jong, May 2020 

In 2011, at the newly formed Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Judith Tumusiime, an impassioned technocrat who prided herself on operating outside of politics, was charged with transforming a “filthy city” to a clean, habitable, and healthy one. Early in her tenure, she was able to vastly improve Kampala’s solid waste management (SWM) system by creating efficiencies, increasing accountability, and bringing her technical know-how to a team that held little expertise. But by 2015, after several years of strong momentum, Tumusiime felt that her progress was stalling, and she faced political challenges around creating a sustainable SWM system.

More specifically, her team was grossly overextended and needed to assign some of its SWM responsibilities to private contractors through an innovative public-private partnership (PPP). To ensure that the PPP was viable, Tumusiime strongly believed that all residents, no matter their income, needed to pay fees for garbage collection. However, the federal and local elections were approaching in February 2016, and politicians had told their constituents that they would not allow garbage collection fees, leaving Tumusiime with little support for her long-term vision. She was faced with a challenge: she could either dive into a political world that she had never wanted anything to do with to see if she could achieve radical change, or she could continue to make tweaks that might achieve short-term, small improvements at a slow—and even halting—pace.

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Norgaard, Stefan, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian. 2020. “In the Green: Negotiating Rail Expansion in Somerville, MA”. Read full the case study Abstract

Stegan Norgaard, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian; May 2020

Successful litigation against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts made an original, legal, and moral case for building alternative transportation in Somerville: the Green Line Extension (GLX). Having campaigned on extending the Green Line—first as alderman, then as mayor—Joe Curtatone took office as mayor in 2005. His first victory was creating a MBTA “T” stop for the Orange Line at Assembly Station. Working with the same coalition of nonprofits, he pursued a participatory visioning process (“SomerVision”) that brought together over sixty organizations from different sectors in Somerville, that had a common vision for the GLX. Curtatone overcame hiccups surrounding industrial parcels and successfully kept the project eligible for a federal NewStarts grant; using an economic-development narrative, he acquired the problematic parcels through eminent domain. By 2014-2015, though, the project was running over budget and it was uncertain whether the Commonwealth would support the GLX.

Curtatone negotiated with the State of Massachusetts and agreed on simplifications to the original GLX, including a shorter route that would no longer directly benefit neighboring regional communities. He also negotiated project funding by the Cities of Cambridge and Somerville and the Boston Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization board (BRMPO). But then, the Commonwealth announced a shortfall of roughly $200 million, that Curtatone resolved through an agreement: Somerville paid $50M, Cambridge $25M, and the BRMPO diverted funding for the rest. The narrower GLX project was approved and construction began in May 2018. This case is designed as the capstone case in a series of negotiation cases developed by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. 

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Vo, Hung, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian. 2020. “Beyond the Table: Infrastructure Development in Kampala, Uganda”. Read the full case study Abstract

Hung Vo, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian; May 2020 

Uganda’s development relied heavily on the economic growth and management of its capital city, Kampala. The World Bank had been active in Uganda’s urban sector since the 1980s and, in 2007, awarded Kampala a $33 million loan for institutional reforms and infrastructure development. Yet by the project’s 2010 deadline, only 30 percent of the project had been completed. Given the delays and its skepticism of a new, inexperienced administration, the World Bank threatened to withdraw funding. Nonetheless, Judith Tumusiime—first as a technical consultant and then as deputy executive director of the newly established Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA)—managed to turn the project around within two years, an almost miraculous transformation. Beyond revitalizing and completing the project’s first phase, could Tumusiime convince the World Bank to invest even more in the second phase?

The case explores Tumusiime’s work to regain trust with the World Bank and persuade it to not only fund a second phase of the project, but to also significantly increase its funding commitment to the City. It examines how Tumusiime navigated her team, the World Bank, other local officials, and national level government actors. Moreover, it unpacks the misguided notion that a negotiation is a solely interpersonal activity that occurs at the table; a broader understanding of process—specifically scope and sequence—can impact the outcome (1). Drawing from David Lax and James Sebenius’ 3-D negotiation framework, the case demonstrates how Tumusiime built a strategy to effectively sequence actions in her negotiation with the World Bank. Her strategic vision and interpersonal strengths enabled her to make dynamic setup moves, improving her ability to negotiate at the table and craft a better deal with the World Bank.

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Knoop, Carin-Isabel, Carlos Paiva, Jorrit de Jong, and Rawi Abdelal. 2020. “Fortaleza: Keeping An Electoral Promise”. Read the full case study Abstract

Carin-Isabel Knoop, Carlos Paiva, Jorrit de Jong, and Rawi Abdelal; May 2020 

During his re-election campaign in 2016, Mayor Roberto Cláudio faced recurring complaints from voters concerning the availability of essential medicines at their health clinics. Limited access to medicine frustrated patients and health care providers, raised the cost of treating chronic conditions, and increased the risk of infectious diseases. It also placed the City in violation of Brazil’s constitution that guaranteed access to essential medicines to patients of the public health system, most of whom were low income. In Cláudio’s first term, Fortaleza’s public health network went through significant advances, renovating the majority of its health clinics and improving access to medical personnel. The team’s considerable progress nonetheless fell short of a comprehensive solution for the lack of access to medicine. This became one of Cláudio’s main campaign promises, and a priority for his second term. The case chronicles how he approached a persistent problem, changed tactics and teams, and pushed for the necessary improvements and innovations to fulfill his promise.

The case raises questions around how to deliver on a campaign promise when your organization seems to have hit a ceiling in performance improvement: When do you push harder for better execution and advancement of current systems? When do you invest in something new to achieve optimal performance? What is the role of mayoral leadership in ensuring that goals are achieved?

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Norgaard, Stefan, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian. 2020. “In the Weeds: Securing a Grass-Mowing Contract in Stockton, CA”. Read the full case study Abstract

Stegan Norgaard, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian; May 2020

Kurt Wilson, the City Manager of Stockton, CA, joined the city government ten months after the City declared bankruptcy. After successfully steering Stockton out of bankruptcy, Wilson committed to implementing a set of permanent financial control measures to ensure that the City remained fiscally solvent well into the future. He had an extensive background in both the private and nonprofit sectors and had served as city manager in four other California cities.

Stockton’s Long-Range Financial Plan (L-RFP) indicated that the City could spend, at most, approximately $1.3M in 2019 fiscal year (FY19) on a contract to mow grass on city medians. The City had spent $1.2M the previous year. Wilson believed shortages of tradespeople in the Bay Area—caused in part by demand for construction after California wildfires—would affect price points. At worst, he thought he could justify spending $1.6M on the contract. Wilson cared about the fiscal health of Stockton, but he also wanted to ensure high-quality public services.

When the City issued its RFP, bids started at $2.26M, well above what Stockton could afford. After considering his options, Wilson issued a new RFP that included a lower “base” scope of services with modular components that the City could accept or decline depending on cost. Stockton ended up spending $1.91M for a year of service, but even as costs increased, tall grasses remained on city medians. Wilson wondered whether there might have been a better way for the City to have anticipated the higher prices.

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Moore, Gaylen, Chistopher Robichaud, Jorrit de Jong, and Anna Burgess. 2020. “Making a Statement: Mayor Libby Schaaf and the Sanctuary City of Oakland, CA”. Read the full case study Abstract

Gaylen Moore, Christopher Robichaud, Jorrit de Jong, and Anna Burgess; May 2020 

In February 2018, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf learned through unofficial sources that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was planning to arrest a large number of undocumented immigrants in her City. Oakland had been a “sanctuary city” since 1986, and more than one in ten residents were undocumented. Mayor Schaaf believed that the ICE action was the Trump administration’s political retaliation against California’s sanctuary cities. She feared that law-abiding immigrants in her community—who she saw as scapegoats for a broken federal immigration system—would be swept up in the raid and subject to deportation. Faced with very little time and potentially significant legal implications, Mayor Schaaf had to decide whether and how to alert the community to a threat she took to be highly credible.

The case is designed to help mayors, city leaders, and other public executives think through adaptive leadership challenges with highly sensitive moral dimensions.

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.
 

Vo, Hung, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian. 2020. “Many Ways to Get There: Securing Public Investments in Richmond, VA”. Read the full case study Abstract

Hung Vo, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian; May 2020 

The City of Richmond elected Levar Stoney as its youngest mayor in 2016. Mayor Stoney campaigned for better-funded public schools, government accountability, and crime prevention. One of the mayor’s main responsibilities was to propose biannual budgets to a nine-member city council, which could approve the budget as proposed or pass it with amendments. This case illustrates Stoney’s efforts to increase Richmond’s real estate tax from $1.20 to $1.29 per $100 of assessed value. This tax increase was quickly rejected by a majority of city council members. Disagreements climaxed when the mayor’s administration walked out of a city council budget hearing, prompting council members to respond by voting to pursue legal action against Stoney.

This case focuses on how positional bargaining prevents creative deal-making when negotiators fail to understand the interests of other parties. By exploring Stoney’s relationship with city council, the case emphasizes the downsides of positional bargaining and the opportunities for better outcomes with an interest-based approach to negotiation. This case also introduces the four negotiation concepts of interests, options, criteria, and alternatives, and examines their relevance to city-level negotiations.

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Jorrit de Jong and Eric Weinberger, May 2020 

Jennifer Musisi, a career civil servant most recently with the Uganda Revenue Authority, was appointed by President Museveni as executive director (equivalent to city manager) of a new governing body for Uganda’s capital, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). Previously, power in Kampala had been held by an elected body, the Kampala City Council (KCC), dominated by opposition politicians and notorious for corruption, poor service delivery, and inadequate tax and revenue collections.

As head of the new KCCA, a quasi-corporate authority now under central government, Musisi’s job was to change all that, and quickly, by fighting corruption and modernizing (thereby increasing) tax and revenue collections. She had to decide which municipal fees or taxes would recoup the greatest revenues for maximum impact on her city-improvement agenda of better roads, clean streets and markets, modern drainage and lighting, and more.

Musisi also needed to find ways to remove longtime private tax agents who took, supposedly, a 10 percent commission from the City but in fact withheld most of their receipts, sometimes extorting additional, unofficial sums. Property tax—as it is throughout the world—was potentially Kampala’s most lucrative revenue source, but here Musisi’s effectiveness was limited without national legislative reform and government support. Thus, her most difficult challenges were transit and trading, on which thousands of poor people depended for their living while being vulnerable to private revenue collectors, middlemen, local bosses, and law enforcement.

The case describes an extremely difficult, often dangerous situation in a fast-growing African capital, and an individual determined to make Kampala the model city she believed it could be. How did Musisi even begin? What was the best strategy for raising own-source revenue (OSR), and how did she navigate the politics—both ways, that is, with opposition city politicians who cultivate the poor, but also with President Museveni and his governing NRM (National Resistance Movement)? In recent history African capitals have depended on central government transfers for their budgets and that is still the case in Kampala. But with little expectation that she would get more support from central government, Musisi had to collect enormous sums for the improvements needed for Kampala’s infrastructure, health services, schools, and general business environment.

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Roberts, Brady, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian. 2020. “The Queen City’s Collective and Compassionate Approach: Fighting Opioids and Homelessness in the Granite State”. Read full the case study Abstract

Brady Roberts, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian; May 2020 

Elected at the height of the opioid epidemic, Mayor Joyce Craig came to represent the City of Manchester, New Hampshire as it grappled with the dual tragedies of substance abuse and chronic homelessness. An idealist in a state that valued personal responsibility and financial restraint, Craig had successfully expanded her City’s services to those seeking treatment for opioid use disorder and shelter. But these were hard-fought victories at every stage, and there was still work to be done. With just a few months remaining in her first two-year term, the mayor found herself on the eve of another difficult negotiation. She had recently established a diverse Task Force on Homelessness and set her sights on permanently solving Manchester’s homelessness and opioid crises. Next, Craig had to convince her counterparts at the state and local level to dedicate equitable funding to solving these intractable, moral challenges. (See Teaching Case Appendix 1 for a timeline of events in the case.)

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Howard Husock, Gaylen Moore, and Jorrit de Jong, May 2020 

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, high atop a great many of the older, concrete-block buildings in lower-income areas of central Hong Kong and the neighborhoods of the Kowloon peninsula, informal metal-framed wooden structures housed thousands of families in austere, inexpensive quarters. These rooftop dwellings created a sort of shantytown in the air and, though built illegally, were nonetheless bought, sold, and rented on the open market. These structures were just one example of the larger phenomenon of so-called unauthorized building works (UBWs) in Hong Kong. These included balconies added to windows—sometimes used for beds—as well as hundreds of thousands of storefront street signs and canopy extensions on buildings in commercial districts, used to create rental space below for stores and restaurants on the ground floor. By 1999, the total number of UBWs was estimated at 800,000. By one assessment, if authorities continued enforcing the laws in the manner they had been, it would take more than 130 years to remove all such structures—assuming that new ones were not built in their place.

This case raises questions about how to respond effectively to a complex problem that has arisen as a solution to other problems.

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Norgaard, Stefan, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian. 2020. “You Get What You Pay for: Reforming Procurement in Naperville, Illinois”. Read the full case study Abstract

Stegan Norgaard, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian; May 2020

Naperville, Illinois is a suburb of approximately 150,000 people in the Chicago metropolitan area. Traditionally, the City focused on price for all procurement negotiations, but it often had few vendors applying for key contracts and struggled to negotiate on both price and quality.

Naperville’s original procurement process was called Quality-Adjusted Cost (QAC). This process sought to simplify a myriad of concerns and variables (including price, quality, timeline, and scope, among others) into a single metric, so that the City could easily and objectively evaluate bids. Although QAC attempted to incorporate quality into the evaluation, there were instances when it seemed the best vendor was not selected.

In an effort to improve the quality of City services, Naperville adopted a new procurement approach called “Cost as a Component.” This revamped process allowed the City to negotiate with vendors on more than just price for technology upgrades and aimed to ensure long-term partnerships with relevant firms, creating value for both vendors and the City. This case illustrates the trade-offs between QAC and “Cost as a Component” for Naperville and prompts participants to apply negotiation concepts to the broader process of city procurement.

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Fernando Monge, Jorrit de Jong, and Warren Dent; May 2020 

In the fall of 2016, the state government of the United Arab Emirates decided to take a new approach to spur floundering projects toward faster results.

Frustrated with slow progress on key issues like public health and traffic safety, the state launched a new program to accelerate change and enhance performance across government agencies. The innovative program, called Government Accelerators, ran 100-day challenges—intense periods of action where “acceleration” teams of frontline staff worked across agency boundaries to tackle pressing problems. This case illustrates how three teams were chosen to participate in the program, and how, in the 100-day timeframe, they worked toward clear and ambitious goals that would impact citizens’ lives.

The case aims to raise discussion about different types of public sector innovation, to explain the approach and methodology of the Government Accelerators, and to analyze the conditions under which a similar tool might work in other cities.

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College?

Alexander Keyssar, Harvard University Press, July 2020

With every presidential election, Americans puzzle over the peculiar mechanism of the Electoral College. The author of the Pulitzer finalist The Right to Vote explains the enduring problem of this controversial institution.

Every four years, millions of Americans wonder why they choose their presidents through the Electoral College, an arcane institution that permits the loser of the popular vote to become president and narrows campaigns to swing states. Most Americans have long preferred a national popular vote, and Congress has attempted on many occasions to alter or scuttle the Electoral College. Several of these efforts—one as recently as 1970—came very close to winning approval. Yet this controversial system remains.

Leonard, Herman B. "Dutch", Arnold M. Howitt, and David Giles. 2020. “Crisis Communications for COVID-19”. Read the full report Abstract

Herman "Dutch" Leonard, Arnold Howitt, and David Giles; April 2020

Communication with employees, customers, investors, constituents, and other stakeholders can contribute decisively to the successful navigation of a crisis.  But how should leaders think about what they are trying to say – and how to say it?

This policy brief lays out simple frameworks that can be used to formulate the messages that leaders can and should – indeed, must – convey to help their communities and organizations make their way forward as effectively as they reasonably can.

Policy Memo Regarding the Allocation of COVID-19 Response Funds to American Indian Nations
Akee, Randall K.Q., Joseph P. Kalt, Eric C. Henson, and Miriam Jorgenson. 2020. “Policy Memo Regarding the Allocation of COVID-19 Response Funds to American Indian Nations”. Read the full memo text Abstract

The COVID-19 crisis poses an immediate threat to three decades of improvement in economic conditions across Indian Country. Federal policies of tribal self-determination through self government have gradually, if unevenly, allowed economic development to take hold in Indian County. Nevertheless, the poverty gap for American Indians is large and hard to close. American Indian/Alaska Native household incomes remain barely half that of the typical household in the US. Tribes now routinely undertake and self-fund the full array of basic governmental services – from law enforcement and public safety to social services and educational support – that we expect any state or local government to provide.

Tribes lack the traditional tax bases enjoyed by state and local governments. Tribal enterprise revenues – both gaming and non-gaming – are tribes’ effective tax bases. Prior to the total shutdown of their casinos, tribes’ gaming enterprises alone were channeling more than $12.5 billion per year into tribal government programs and services . No tribal casinos are operating at this time. The same applies to many non-gaming enterprises and many tribal government programs. The COVID-19 crisis is devastating tribes’ abilities to fund their provision of basic governmental services and forcing tribes to make painful decisions to lay off employees, drop workers’ insurance coverage, deplete assets, and/or take on more debt.
 

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